For the past few years, Iowa’s cattle industry has shown interest in increasing funding for vital needs, such as promotion of our beef industry and production research specific to Iowa. One potential source of funding that has surfaced during this same time period is reinstating the Iowa beef checkoff.
Prior to the national beef checkoff, Iowa had it’s own checkoff through the Iowa code chapter 181. While the code remained intact, the assessment was repealed following authorization of the 1985 Farm Bill and eventual producer referendum which led to the collection of the $1/head national beef checkoff. And from that time to the current, national beef checkoff dollars have been used to increase demand for beef and beef products in the US and internationally.
Several directives and resolutions have been approved by ICA members that support reinstating the state assessment. If reinstated by referendum, the proposed state checkoff would be a mandatory collection, with a voluntary refund provision. While the state checkoff would provide funding for industry needs in Iowa, the more important aspect is the ability to utilize funds more flexibly and more comprehensively outside the scope of the National Beef Checkoff. For instance, Iowa’s beef community would have more versatility to fund Iowa beef industry need-based production research while also funding issue based beef responses without the oversight of USDA.
ICA Members Surveyed
In late 2015, all ICA producer members received a survey to gauge interest in a state checkoff initiative. Over 900 survey results were tabulated and showed that 80% of those surveyed support reinstating the 50 cent state checkoff. Survey respondents represented all sectors of the industry and every county in Iowa.
“With a softening cattle market, we wondered if our producers would look at the long-term impacts of this initiative. We wanted to make sure we had a clear picture of where Iowa cattle producers stand on this issue. They have shown support for a state checkoff and our producers and board voted to move forward with the initiative,” said Matt Deppe, ICA executive director.
Not only did the survey gauge interest of ICA members to reinstate the Iowa beef checkoff, but more importantly it asked members to prioritize investment resources collected through the state assessment. Survey results revealed that the national beef checkoff, due to federal code constraints, is not fully meeting the needs of the Iowa cattle industry. Those that participated in the survey ranked the importance of the following priorities for potential state dollars/additional investments:
- Marketing and promoting Iowa beef and beef products.
- Enhancing Iowa’s beef industry Image by marketing our Iowa producer image and communicating transparency.
- Production research focused on the state’s weather, feedstuffs, and management practices.
- Expanding international trade relationships.
- Providing educational opportunities to Iowa cattlemen and Iowa youth.
Iowa is not the only state looking at ways to increase checkoff investments in order to further promote, enhance and market their beef industries. Fourteen states have an additional state beef checkoff assessment. Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio and Texas, currently have a $1 per head state checkoff. Seven other states, including Idaho, Illinois, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Washington, have a 50 cent state checkoff. Missouri is currently moving forward to approve a 50 cent state checkoff.
The next step for ICA is to continue communication with cattlemen across the state regarding the proposal. We will continue to accept feedback as ICA staff work with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship develop a referendum to reinstate the Iowa checkoff. Because each producer has the ability to vote yes or no to support the referendum, it is imperative that non-members are aware of the checkoff initiative.
When reviewing Chapter 181 of Iowa Code, portions of the law were outdated, confusing, and irrelevant to to the state’s current beef cattle industry. Therefore, during the 2016 Iowa legislative session, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association will be lobbying for amendments to chapter 181 that better align with cattle producer’s vision for the Iowa beef checkoff.
Amendments will include:
- Provide the refund request for the state checkoff online.
- Re-define uses for the state checkoff dollars.
- Strike cattle feeding contests and demonstrations.
- Add research on beef production and evaluation of Iowa beef production needs.
- Add education materials and opportunities for consumers, producers, and youth.
- Streamline engagement of the decision makers for the state checkoff.
The changes have been included in House Study Bill 561, sponsored by Rep. Hein (Chairman of the Ag Committee) and Senate Study Bill 3131 Sen. Seng (Chairman of the Ag Committee).
The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association will continue to lobby these progressive changes through the duration of the legislative session. If members are interested in talking with their legislator on these amendments, please contact our office.
ICA anticipates a referendum vote later in 2016. ICA will educate cattle producers on when, where and how the vote will take place.
If you did not complete a survey and would like to do so at this point, please contact the ICA office 515-296-2266. Your input is important to us!
Source: Iowa Cattlemen's Association